Canadian Government Legalizes Marijuana

On October 17, 2018, the Federal Government of Canada legalized cannabis. At best, this is a national experiment and controversial legislation. Clearly, the tax profits available to the Canadian government are enormous,  and the vast numbers of businesses devoted to the production, distribution and sales of marijuana seem boundless.  And, the question of health to adults and youth using cannabis continues to be in dispute.

The proliferation of businesses engaged in the promotion and marketing are restricted from using techniques and procedures to attract younger demographics, however, opponents contend this is a slippery slope in which  informational materials and brand marketing are sending a message to Canadians that marijuana is acceptable, perhaps confusing those who might otherwise have decided to not smoke cigarettes. And, there still remains doubt as to whether and to what extent one’s ability to safely operate equipment, machinery, and automobiles may be impaired.

While there are unanswered questions regarding the short and long term consequences of using marijuana,  many in the health profession continue to develop campaigns to alert the public as to the health and other risks associated with cannabis. Undoubtedly, this is a topic under consideration now and in the future by the representatives in the United States Government, and other countries.

Mandatory Patient Prescription Reporting Data Base

On July 1, 2016, Health and Safety Code Section 11165.1 required all designated California licensed professionals who are authorized to prescribe, order, administer and/or furnish Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances to register, on a database that is commonly referred to as CURES 2.0,  the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System. CURES is the prescription drug monitoring program mandated in California. Practitioners can access tips and  Registration pointers as well. Other critical and substantive information is available in the form of a Practitioner’s Manual.

Effective October 2, 2018, it is mandatory for Physicians (MD); Osteopathic Doctors (DO); Dentists (DDS); Podiatrists (DPM); Naturopathic Physicians (NP);  Physician Assistants (PA); Optometrists (OD); Nurse Practitioners (NP); Nurse Midwives (either CNM and/or CM); and Veterinarians (DVM) to consult CURES prior to performing any of the above services. After the initial consultation and at least once every four months thereafter, each of these practitioners must consult Cures 2.0  if the controlled substance continues to be part of the respective patient’s treatment. It is noteworthy that the CURES data collection vendor has published data submission instructions. The consultation requirement as such is inapplicable to Pharmacists (RPh); however, as other dispensing practitioners are obligated to monitor prescriptions of controlled substances, Pharmacists are also required to report on a weekly basis information regarding Schedule II, III and IV controlled substances being dispensed. The applicable Health and Safety Code, however, sets forth limited and designated exemptions.

It is noteworthy that a patient can obtain his or her CURES prescription history through the IPA, commonly referred to as the Information Practices Act. Each Patient Activity Report contains the following record: the patient’s name; date of birth; address; name of the prescriber and DEA number; name and license number of the pharmacy; date the prescription was filled; prescription number; drug name, drug form, drug quantity and strength; number of days of the supply, and each refill number. One may obtain the IPA Request form by contacting the CURES Help Desk.

The goal of Cures 2.0 is to ensure patient safety. Additionally, each particular licensing agency has access to the IPA information to regulate those whom they issue a professional license to ensure they follow the law and maintain proper standards and practices. Spital and Associates is an award winning law firm that provides legal advice and representation in investigations and disciplinary actions brought against individuals and entities that wish to obtain or currently have a professional and occupational license in California.

California Recent Change to Marijuana Law

Under the ballot measure designated as Proposition 64 that was passed by 57% of the voters in the November 8, 2016 election that became effective November 9th:

1) those convicted of a felony as a result of possession, transportation &/or cultivation of marijuana can have it reduced to a misdemeanor;

2) the County Public Defender in San Diego has offered to file the Petition for free even if the crime occurred years ago, and even if the defendant was previously represented by private counsel;

3) if the San Diego District Attorney decides there is a basis to have the felony reduced to a misdemeanor, the defendant may not even have to appear in Court;

4) the current process in San Diego allows the Superior Court to re-sentence a defendant from a felony to a misdemeanor, or dismiss the charges [it would seem beneficial to have private counsel if one hopes to obtain a full dismissal of a prior felony conviction];

5) the law also now permits anyone over age 21 to possess up to 28.5 grams of marijuana, or grow at any one time up to six marijuana plants at their residence.

6) the maximum penalty is now up to six months in the County Jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for those who grow, transport or sell marijuana, which are now misdemeanors.

7) there are certain exceptions causing the case to be charged as a felony, such as:

  • the defendant has prior convictions for the sale of drugs;
  • the defendant is charged with transporting marijuana into the United States &/or across state borders. For example, one cannot obtain marijuana in a state in which recreational use is legal and bring it into California;
  • the defendant has a prior conviction of certain felonies that are deemed “strikes;”
  • the defendant is a Registered Sex Offender [RSO].

8) in addition, there are miscellaneous restrictions in connection with marijuana, such as:

  • there are Federal laws that apply to the use, possession, sale, transportation and/or cultivation of marijuana;
  • driving while impaired by the use [under the influence] of marijuana is a crime in California;
  • smoking marijuana (a joint) (pot) in public is still illegal;
  • a store, shop, or retail establishment that sells recreational marijuana must check ID’s to be certain they are not selling marijuana to a minor; and such a business cannot be within 600 feet of a school, daycare or youth center;
  • unless the law is amended, a medical marijuana dispensary and/or an entity that cultivates marijuana cannot legally sell to an adult recreational user [includes social, personal or nutritional uses] until January, 2018;
  • advertising that is aimed to minors is prohibited;
  • a city or municipality has the power to issue an ordinance to ban the sale of marijuana; and if they permit such a commercial entity to do business, they have the power to regulate those entities under zoning laws.
  • an employer can lawfully require all prospective employees to pass a drug test as a condition of employment for certain positions as long as no individual or group is unlawfully selected, such as discrimination on the basis of race, nationality, religion, sexual preference, etc.
  • an employer can lawfully refuse to hire an employee who has tested positive for marijuana, even though it was legally prescribed for a medicinal purpose

9) nonetheless, there are still advantages to have a felony reduced to a misdemeanor, including but not limited to allowing an individual to maintain &/or obtain current and future: employment, security clearance, insurance, rent or lease property, and, in specified instances to possess a firearm, etc.

On the other hand, it is still likely if one has a professional or occupational license in California, or seeks to obtain such a license,  the state licensing Board, Bureau, or Department will require one to report a crime, whether a felony or misdemeanor; and, they will investigate and likely file an Accusation even if a misdemeanor is expunged. At Spital and Associates, we aggressively seek to present a comprehensive and cogent treatise with a compelling defense and offense and utilize forensic experts (adding the technical science) to marginalize any such investigation or Accusation.

Any discussion of marijuana of necessity has to include what opponents consider to be the dangers of such use. The short term effects include but are not limited to causing changes in a person’s mood, but  it can also impair body movement; as well as difficulty in attention and/or memory (learning) and/or problem solving (thinking). It has also been reported that marijuana raises one’s heart rate, which can increase the risk of a heart attack, particularly with older individuals and/or those with congenital or later developed or contracted heart problems.

The long term effects can adversely impact the previously mentioned mental abilities, and possibly cause permanent loss of certain brain functions. In some individuals,  the long term use of marijuana can cause temporary symptoms such as paranoia and hallucinations, as well as anxiety and depression that has been linked to mental illness. Not only can there be a loss of physical and/or mental health, but it has also been described as a “gateway drug” because it can lead to the use of other drugs and narcotics (some of which are highly addictive and deadly).  In addition, the smoke can harm a person’s lungs and, therefore, cause lung cancer. The risk to the development of a child during and after pregnancy is still unknown. When one seeks to stop using marijuana, there may be withdrawal symptoms.

You are encouraged to consult with a physician in terms of  medical and psychological issues; and, it is recommended that you obtain the advice of an experienced lawyer in regards to each and all of the above items to determine whether and to what extent any apply to you, a loved one, and/or a friend or associate. If you desire a Free Attorney Consultation, call 619.583.0350 and ask for Sam Spital, Managing Lawyer or send an email

Man Arrested & Government Seize Nearly $900,000 in Marijuana

A United States citizen was arrested for drug trafficking near the San Diego-Mexico border over the weekend. The 59-year-old allegedly attempted to smuggle almost $900,000 worth of marijuana into the U.S.  The arrest took place after authorities noticed a person hiding in a bush several yards away from the international line.

Officers discovered the suspect transferring bundles from a Dodge Ram into a motor home and then proceeded to question him. They determined the man was engaging in a smuggling operation. Agents found 40 packages of cannabis, with an estimated street value of $857,000.

 

Federal Appeals Court Bars DOJ From Prosecuting Medical Marijuana Cases

On August 16, 2016, a three- judge panel of the 9th Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals (this is the federal appellate court that covers California) ruled against the Federal Government, holding the Department of Justice (DOJ) cannot prosecute marijuana cases when a STATE permits medical marijuana &/or a business or individual is in compliance with state law.

In 2014, Congress passed a bill known as the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment that DOJ cannot use any of its funding in any given fiscal year to interfere with medical marijuana laws in the states. In other words, the Federal Government is barred from preventing states from how they regulate the use or sale of marijuana.

This is a victory for proponents of medical marijuana laws, but there are two apparent limitations:

  • The cases will likely turn on whether there is strict compliance with the relevant conditions of state law; and
  • The Congressional appropriation restriction noted above expires 9/30/16 and, unless Congress passes a new bill to extend that prohibition, it will soon expire.

This is a unique situation inasmuch as the Federal Government has not updated its laws for40-50 years while approximately 41 states authorize at least one form of medical marijuana use. Some commentators argue the Federal Government is out of step with [what seems] a growing trend in a majority of states

We can expect to see new legislation by Congress regarding this subject very soon.

 

Police arrest four drug suspects following high-speed chase

 

A high-speed chase in San Diego ended with the arrest of four individuals who are now facing drug charges.

 

According to the report, authorities had information that led them to believe the vehicle was involved in narcotics trafficking or use.

However, the driver refused to pull over when asked and instead led police on a pursuit during rush hour. With the help of a police helicopter, the suspects were captured shortly after leading an officer down an embankment.

An investigation led to the discovery of meth, drug paraphernalia, and a firearm inside the abandoned vehicle. In addition to narcotics charges, the suspects also face felony evading and failure to yield.

Methamphetamine is a growing problem throughout San Diego

Methamphetamine drug use and distribution are some of the most prevent drug crimes in San Diego. According to this news report, methamphetamine killed an estimated 174 people in this Southern California city in the year 2012.“It’s prevalent and I don’t know if people know how much it is,” said the founder of a rehab facility for teen and adult addicts.
In the 90s, San Diego became known as the meth capital of the world because of an increase in labs that emerged throughout the city. Methamphetamine drug use and problems in San Diego did not end there. Today, meth is considered to be the number 1 reason why people seek rehabilitation.

Cops Bust Meth Operation at “Party House”

An illegal drug operation in San Diego has resulted in the arrest of 16 people. San Diego police discovered large amounts of methamphetamine at a location known as a “party house”, according to one neighbor.

The neighbor reported having seen a cluster of people frequenting the area. Prior to this raid, several other individuals were arrested. Those prior arrests led investigators to this City Heights home. All of the suspects were arrested for possession of illegal drugs, including methamphetamine.

 

2016 New California Laws

There are about 800 new California laws that went into effect on January 1, 2016. Here are a few noted by the following topics:

Driving Under the Influence – drivers convicted of a DUI (whether alcohol or drugs) in four California counties [Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento & Turlare], under an existing program that will remain in effect until July 1, 2017 will be required to install an ignition-interlock device (IID) on their cars. The IID registers alcohol on the driver’s breath, and is designed to prevent the vehicle from starting based on a pre-determined level of blood alcohol.

Earbuds – earphones, headsets or earbuds in both ears cannot be used while driving a vehicle or bicycle

Electronic Surveillance – the police, sheriff and law enforcement must first obtain a search warrant before accessing your e-mail, text, social media, data and other electronic information, unless it is determined to be an emergency situation.

Gun ban – those who have a CCW permit (individual who may legally carry a concealed weapon) will not be allowed to bring their guns on school and/or college campuses without advance permission from the school or campus authority.

Gun-violence restraining order – individuals who fear a family member could hurt their self or others can apply to the court for a gun-violence restraining order to limit the person’s access to firearms for up to one year

Medical marijuana rules – a statewide agency will now license and regulate all aspects of the cultivation, manufacture, transportation, storage, distribution and sale of medical marijuana.

Motor-voter registration – adults who apply for or renew a California driver’s license will automatically be registered to vote, although one can opt out if you do not want to be registered.

School Children – must be vaccinated to go to public school

Toy guns – are outlawed (can’t be displayed) in public unless brightly colored such as red, pink or yellow

Work Pay – equal pay is required for men & women. It is not less burdensome for a female employee to challenge her employer if there appears to be a disparity in the pay women receive in contrast to men performing similar work. Employers are also barred from prohibiting workers from talking about their &/or their co-workers’ pay in order to determine wage fairness. The minimum wage in California is now $10/hr. However, fewer minimum wage earners now work a full 40 hour work week as a result of the expanded wage, health, and benefit laws involved in operating a business.

This is a summary only and not intended to constitute legal advice. For the official webpage and guide of the Bills the California Legislature enacted in 2015, click: Bills Enacted in 2015

DEA says San Diego drug ring stops with arrests

Despite the beauty that is San Diego, it is not free from the perils of crime. Due to location and accessibility, San Diego is often home to a plethora of drug crimes. The article referenced below is a great example of the threat that drug crimes pose. A total of 13 individuals have been arrested by federal officials and as a result, a drug ring that was bringing methamphetamine and cocaine into San Diego County was stopped.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the drug ring was profiting highly from the drug ring. Out of the 12 suspects that were arrested on Wednesday, 7 are from Vista and two from San Marcos. The rest are believed to be from Spring Valley, Los Angeles, and Oceanside. The arrests are a result of a year-long investigation.

 

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